Preview: Palestine Olympic Team vs. Bahrain (2nd Leg)
What: Second Round Olympic Qualifier (Return Leg)
When: June 23rd, 2011
Where: Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium, Al-Ram, Palestine
Kickoff: 1400 GMT
TV: Palestine Satellite Channel
For a more in-depth preview you might want to take a look at our coverage of the first leg of this tie. There aren't many points left to hash out. Here is what you need to know:
- Palestine has a slender but valuable 1-0 lead. A win or draw takes them through. A one-goal loss will see the eliminated unless the score is 1-0 then it's 30 minutes of extra-time and penalties if necessary.
- Israel will not allow the four Gazan players who joined the team to enter the West Bank. The services of Mohammed Abu Dan, Anas El-Helu, Mohammed Al-Sadoody, and Alaa Attieh (who played 8 minutes as a sub) will be lost.
- Thaer Al-Bana, Mahmoud "Al-Koori" Salah, Nadim Barghouthi, and Ahmed Mearry are all on yellow cards they will be hit with a one-match suspension should they pick up another booking.
- This game comes down to The Dinosaur's approach. Will he attack or will he deploy the same tactics we saw for the first 45 minutes in Manama?
With the forced absence of Alaa Attieh there is virtually no chance Talili starts out playing with two forwards. He could stick Hazem El-Reikhawy further up the pitch but there is no point in changing a winning formula. Many fans want to see an attacking formation, to which I reply there are no "attacking" formations only attacking personnel. A variation of the 4-2-3-1 will be played to avoid leaving Palestine overrun in midfield where Bahrain enjoys a technical advantage. The question is how much tinkering does Talili do with his personnel? The personnel deployed in the first half of the first leg lacked discipline. The midfielders were too close together and could not keep ahold of possession. The 4-2-3-1 essentially became a very bad 4-5-1 with El-Reikhawy, El-Khatib, and Salím growing ever more isolated:
The substitution of Al-Bana for the clever Abuhabeeb did wonders. So did the late substitution of Hicham Ali. With a 4-4-1-1 with El-Reikhawy dropping back deep to defend when needed.
I would bet you see this formation again Thursday, with a fresh Abuhabeeb and Hicham Ali helping keep possession and drive attacks forward when needed.